What I eat in a day as a raw vegan

vegan plate

So what exactly do you eat in a day?  This question comes up nearly every time I talk to people about my raw vegan diet.  What I eat in a day as a raw vegan videos are some of the most popular on my YouTube channel.  So here we go:

Breakfast/Lunch – I skip breakfast most every day and eat my first meal around 11am.  This is known as a type of intermittent fasting where I eat for 8 hours a day and fast for the remaining 16 hours.

Oh no!  You skip breakfast?  That’s crazy!  Or is it?

The point of intermittent fasting is to allow enough time in between my last and first meal of the day for my body to burn fat.  Eating continuously and not giving your body a break from digesting food doesn’t allow it time to burn fat or complete important cellular repair functions.

Today my breakfast/lunch consisted of the following fresh, seasonal, organic fruit:

1 small/medium cantaloupe

1 small watermelon

24 ounces blueberries

Dinner – I typically eat dinner around 6 ish.  It pretty much always consist of my favorite BIG SALAD!

Big Salad Ingredients:

1/2 avocado

1-1.5 lbs cherry tomatoes

Juice of 1 lime

1 yellow pepper

1/2 head iceberg lettuce

1 head romaine lettuce

1 papaya – I ate this before the salad.

So there you go.  Everything I ate today.  Strangely, I didn’t eat any bananas today, which is not normal.  I love bananas!

What, no juices or smoothies? – Yes, I know.  For a raw vegan it’s pretty unusual not to drink juices or smoothies.  While I occasionally have a smoothie or juice, I like to eat my food in its whole food form.

I also enjoy keeping everything I eat very simple.  So a smoothie or juice with 10 different ingredients isn’t really something I consider simple.  I would rather eat a whole papaya and enjoy the taste of the papaya rather than combining it with 10 other fruits.

Food combining is also a concern.  Certain fruits and vegetables do not combine well and may contribute to digestive issues and/or stomach upset.

I also believe eating whole foods allows my body to monitor and take in an appropriate amount of calories.  I have friends that make morning smoothies with 1500 to 2000 calories.  Taking in excess calories is just too easy when it’s blended or juiced versus eating all the ingredients in their whole food form.

High water content – I focus on eating as many fruits and vegetables that have high water content as possible.  Not only are these less calorically dense, but it’s also so important to get hydration from the foods you eat.  Sure, drinking water is important.  But getting hydration from your food is the quickest and most efficient way to hydrate your cells.

As an athlete, hydration is a top concern.  I run a lot and sweat a lot.  My recovery from hard workouts is largely dependent on how I hydrate and the quality of my nutrition.

High water content foods are pretty obvious, but fruits like watermelon, papaya and oranges are all great choices.  Bananas and avocados are examples of fruits that are less water content.  Now that’s not to say you can’t eat those.  I enjoy both on a daily basis, but I try and eat more of the higher water content choices.

No processed foods – if what you’re eating has a label, it’s processed.  Look for foods without labels and stock up on them.  I once had a friend phone me from the grocery store, asking what she should look for on food labels in order to eat healthier.  I told her if it has a label she should put it back on the shelf and move on.

The problem with processed, package foods has to do with both the added sugar, fat and salt, but also the preservatives and additives intended to increase the shelf life and palatability.  It’s really pretty much impossible to avoid these additives, no matter how healthy the packaging claims the food item is.

The benefits of eating raw – benefits are numerous, but probably the biggest benefit is eating raw allows you to easily choose healthy food.  There is no label reading or wondering if a certain food fits within you diet.  If it’s raw and it’s a vegetable or fruit, you’re good to go.

I hope this What I eat in a day as a raw vegan helps you when deciding what you should be eating in a day to maximize your health.  Start out with a day or two of eating high carb, low fat, all raw vegan food and move on when you’re ready to day 3, day 4 and beyond.

Good Luck!

EatPlantsLiveWell

 

 

 

Crucial tips for the traveling vegan

menu

Eventually, you’ll need to take your show on the road.  Whether for business or pleasure, you’ll be forced out of the comforts of your home and your local Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. Instead of staring inside your own refrigerator you’ll be perusing a 12 page leather-bound menu that likely has less vegan friendly options than the local KFC.

It’s true.  Life can be a bit rough for the traveling vegan, but here are some time-tested and proven (by me, of course) tips for surviving when food preparation is out of your hands:

Communicate– Let everyone, and I mean everyone, know that you are vegan.  Call ahead to restaurants, or if someone is handling reservations for you, make sure they’re very clear.  I’m vegan!  you should shout to anyone that will listen. Yes, you’re proud but also you want to avoid confusion.

Careful not to  let them confuse vegetarian with vegan.  In some countries, as I just experienced in France and Switzerland, there really isn’t a good understanding of what exactly a vegan is.  I had to be very clear that butter, eggs and cheese were excluded as well.  Apparently, the Vegan is the New Black phenomenon  hasn’t reached overseas.  I had much better luck with the vegan translation in Italy…though for some reason they kept calling me a vegetalian.  I have no idea what that is.

Supplement – no, not protein supplements, silly.  I went to grocery stores during my recent visit overseas and always had additional fruit and veggies available in case the vegan meals were a bit, well, lacking.  For example, I carried an avocado and salad mix to supplement the breakfasts which were comprised of the same 3 things every day of the trip…cheese, bread and jambon (yep, ham).

While it’s not always possible or appropriate to bring your own food to restaurants, I chose to ask for forgiveness rather than permission.  As long as you’re ordering something from the menu or keep a low profile, the restaurants I visited didn’t seem to mind.

Pre-meal – this is by far my favorite tip for the traveling vegan.  Let’s say you’re going to a restaurant later with a big group of carnivorous friends.  After looking at the menu, you’ve found 1 possible vegan item that still requires 9 modifications that you’re not even sure you can get the server to understand.

No problem, says you, you smart traveling vegan.  A couple of hours before dinner you strike out on your own to a more hospitable restaurant that you looked up on Happy Cow or Yelp and you wolf down a full meal, or at least some appetizers.

I recently did this while in Italy and had the most epic vegan pizza prepared happily by a chef that kept appearing at our table holding various vegetables and asking if it was okay if he added them to our pizza. We ended up with capers, peppers, mushroom and olives atop a deliciously chewy thin crust pizza (no cheese) that really hit the spot after a 19 mile run.

Rather than annoyed, the Italian chef seemed quite excited to prepare our vegan pizza.  p.s., I still ate dinner later and was pleasantly surprised to be served some vegan options.  The key is not to assume that there will be options and then be disappointed.

Pre-mealing is also a great plan if dinner is served much later than you normally eat, or if you suspect dinner will be less than you normally like to eat.  We certainly do not want the traveling vegan to get hangry.

Skip a meal – this is my least favorite option but given only unhealthy or non-vegan choices, I have opted to skip the whole dinner and order nothing.  Sure, it’s not ideal, and certainly not if your hungry.  This is very rare though, as most restaurants will at least have a dinner salad you can order.   There is always the option of eating something later.  Also, missing a meal certainly won’t kill you, and it may even be a good idea to go without once in awhile.

Suffice it to say, you must plan ahead for situations where you’ll have  limited food choices.  Be clear about what you’ll eat and as long as you use your manners (of course, all vegans use their manners, right?), you should navigate the restaurant minefield without incident.

A word of warning though – you may end up ordering and receiving food that your carnivorous friends find more appealing than theirs.  In this case you can forget your manners and tell them to keep their paws off your food!

EatPlantsLiveWell!

 

If you don’t love salads, you’re not doing it right.

big salad

Don’t love salads?  Does the thought of eating salad every day make you want to rush into oncoming traffic? Do you picture yourself sitting down to a bowl of plain lettuce night after night with just your tears as dressing?

No worries, I’m going to change your mind about what “salad” really is.

People ask me all the time if I get tired of eating salad.  The answer is absolutely not!  That’s like asking if I get tired of breathing fresh, clean air.  You will never tire of a well-prepared salad.

Full disclosure.  I used to hate salads too.  I skipped right over them on restaurant menus and never prepared them at home.  But when I decided to become a raw vegan and get rid of processed foods a few years back, I started experimenting with making what I like to call EPIC salads.  And I succeeded!

But never fear.  Preparing an EPIC salad isn’t difficult.  You can become as accomplished as I with very little effort and virtually no culinary skills.  Okay, you may need some basic knife skills.  You’ll have to learn how to chop an onion. The proper way to cut an avocado.  But these are important life skills.  Learn them!

Right now you’re probably picturing a salad and shaking your head.  I could never learn to love salad that much! is what you’re probably thinking.  Stay calm! In fact,  I agree with you.  I could never love the sad little salad often served at restaurants and  that you’ve probably been subjected to eating your whole life.  But that’s not salad.  At least it’s not the one we’re going to make.  We’re going to do so much better than that.

The salad you’re not going to make…

Typically, it’s a tiny bowl or plate of wilted iceberg lettuce with a few over-ripe spongy tomatoes quartered on top and three sad circles of red onion topped off with some dry, possibly burnt croutons of questionable freshness.  Served, of course, with a trio of equally nauseating  and lame dressing choices like ranch, blue cheese or Italian.  As if the salad by itself wasn’t bad enough, now we’ll cover it with a high fat, high calorie sauce chock full of nasty saturated fat and cholesterol.  Yuck!

Let’s get that image out of your head.  It’s outdated and fortunately, we know how to make an actual salad that you might even consider eating.  One that won’t leave you hungry and unhealthy on account of it’s total lack of nutrients and sadly, with the dressing, a high amount of calories.  We will eat no such bad salads.

Let’s get started making a salad you can be proud of with just a few rules:

Rule #1 – Buy Organic

Yep, I know.  Organic is expensive.  So cancel your cable subscription.   Find a local co-op or farmer’s market with reasonable prices.  Organic is important for a number of reasons, but for our purposes, it’s because organic tastes better and most of our salad ingredients are in the dirty dozen of produce with the highest amount of pesticide residue.

If that doesn’t get you, also remember all those noxious pesticides sprayed on your food contaminate the environment and negatively affect the people out picking your lettuce and strawberries.  Remember, every time you buy food you’re voting with your dollars.  Buying organic is a vote for the environment and less pesticide exposure for workers.

Rule #2 – Go Big

This salad is your main course.  It needs to be BIG.  A good rule of thumb that I like to pass on, courtesy of Dr Alan Goldhamer is this:  If you finish preparing your big salad and someone walking in to the kitchen at that moment doesn’t say “OMG, are you going to eat all of that?” then you need to make it bigger.  People should be shocked at the size of your salad.

Remember, greens, veggies and fruit are low in caloric density.  So don’t be afraid to raise some eyebrows at dinnertime.  Salad is not a side dish to be pushed aside in preparation for the “real food” main course of unhealthy animal products.   Be proud of eating a BIG salad as your main course…you’re making a healthy and satisfying choice.

Rule # 3 – No store-bought dressings

Nope, no dressings in a jar.  No matter how good they look or what they claim on the packaging.  It’s still processed junk food.  Plus, your salad is going to be so tasty you won’t even really need to “dress” your salad.  That’s just a way to kill the flavor of a bad salad.  Ours is an EPIC salad.  We don’t need to enhance or cover the flavor of our food up with unhealthy condiments.

Dressing bases should start with fresh-squeezed lemon or lime juice.  You can add some chopped herbs like cilantro or basil.  Then chop up some tomatoes and half an avocado.  Cumin or curry spices can also be added.  Mix that up in a bowl and there’s your basic dressing!

If you need more options, check out Gena’s Choosing Raw for a number of amazing dressing recipes that take only a few easy to find ingredients and a moment extra of time.  Oh, and not only is it healthier, but it’s a lot less expensive to make your own dressings than to buy.  Bonus!

Rule #4 – Customize

This is by far the best part of making salads.  You get to put on top of your leafy greens whatever your little heart desires.  Okay, let’s not get carried away.  Skittles are not okay on salad any more than they’re okay on their own.  Also, of course, no cheese, no dairy and no meat.

Vegan meat and vegan cheese choices just keep getting better and more mainstream. Most grocery stores and even restaurants carry these alternatives and they’re perfect on top of your salad.  

Start with greens like red leaf lettuce, romaine or iceberg.  I like mine chopped up fine in strips.  Add chopped peppers, olives, onions, avocado (I usually use half), mushrooms and artichokes.

Other additions to consider are brown rice, quinoa, roasted Yukon gold potatoes, lentils, black beans and garbanzos.  These can be cooked ahead of time and eaten cold on greens or heated on greens.

If you’re used to eating meat and cheese on a salad, hearty foods like the cooked lentils, rice or garbanzo beans are a great substitute.  They’re low in fat and contain no saturated fat or cholesterol.  I recommend the “no salt added” organic beans and lentils if you go with the canned variety.  Taking a few minutes to cook your own is always preferable to buying canned.

The important part of making a good salad is that you just keep preparing them until you find which combinations you like.  The only constant I have is at least 7-8 ounces of lettuce as the base.  I have a go-to salad that differs only slightly that I eat nearly every night.  I look forward to it every day.  You will too!

Experiment with fresh, organic, whole ingredients.  Try something you haven’t tried or even something that you thought you didn’t like.

There are no rules for what goes on your  EPIC salad.  The salad police will not come to your home and tell you that sundried tomatoes and Israeli couscous aren’t allowed on your salad.

One word of warning though.  When you start making your own EPIC salads you will be bitterly disappointed as you watch your server bring you a sad salad with a few lackluster ingredients on a tiny little plate the next time you go to a restaurant.  That’s not a salad, you’ll scoff, with your newfound-salad-making skills.

However, use this as motivation to eat at home whenever possible.  You’ll always prepare healthier food at home, where you have control of your ingredients and can buy fresh and organic greens, grains, veggies and fruit.

Now go out and prepare yourself an EPIC salad!

EatPlantsLiveWell!